A Madrid court has issued an arrest warrant for Spanish actor and activist Willy Toledo after he twice failed to show up in court, where he had been summonsed after a lawyers’ association accused him of offending religious sentiments.
The Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers filed a complaint with the public prosecutor after Toledo published a post on Facebook in 2017, in which he expressed his indignation over a court probe into three women in Seville who, in 2014, paraded a large model of a vagina through the city streets, in an imitation of a religious procession, dubbing it the “coño insumiso,” or “Insubordinate pussy.”
On July 5, 2017, Toledo posted a message on Facebook in which he called the judge in charge of that case “possessed by the devil” for not having shelved it. “I shit on God and have enough shit left over to shit on the dogma of the saintliness and virginity of the Virgin Mary. This country is unbearably shameful. I’m disgusted. Go fuck yourselves. Long live the Insubordinate Pussy.”
At the time, he also described the €3,600 civil bond the judge had ordered him to pay as being “repression.” The case against the Seville women had originally been shelved, but was reopened on appeal by the Association of Christian Lawyers.
Toledo – who has appeared in movies such as Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited and the romantic comedy The Other Side of the Bed – announced via his Facebook account in March of this year that he would ignore any summons to appear in court over the lawyer association complaint against him.
“From here, I would like to inform the hitmen from the Francoist Borbón Spanish regime that I have absolutely no intention of wasting a single second of my life by appearing before your most illustrious lordships,” the message read.
The Christian association said it believes Toledo is pulling a publicity stunt, and noted that everyone has the obligation to appear in court when summoned to do so.
“We believe that this arrest warrant has been brought about by Willy Toledo because he wants the publicity,” said Polonia Castellanos, the president of the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers. “It’s been seven years since he had a job.” She continued saying that “we are all equal in the eyes of the law,” and as such, the actor “is obliged to go to court if he is called to do so by a judge, even if he thinks he has special privileges due to his social position.”
The association is also planning to ask the judge to investigate Toledo for hate crimes after he applauded Civil War killings of Catholics
In the same message posted in March, Toledo said that if the authorities decided to “issue an arrest warrant against him,” he would “save them the search,” and stated the dates and theater in which he would be appearing in a play. “From that date on, you will find me in my usual Madrid residence, which you already know all too well, given that it’s the same place where you sent your lads to get me the last time,” the actor said, in reference to his arrest at his home in 2012 over allegations of causing a disturbance in a Madrid bar during a general strike. That case was later shelved.
The Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers has announced that it is also planning to ask the judge to consider investigating Toledo for hate crimes after he said during a television interview that if people were shot for their religious beliefs and Catholic churches burned during the Spanish Civil War, it was because they “must have done something.”
Once Toledo appears in court, a judge will decide whether to continue with the case or to shelve it.
Speaking to Spanish news agency EFE in April, Toledo said that it was “outrageous” that an “ultra-fundamentalist Catholic association such as the Association of Christian Lawyers could, in the present day, file a lawsuit for blasphemy, as if we were in the Middle Ages.” The law that covers religious sentiment, he added, was “anti-democratic” given that it “stops atheists from expressing their opinions.” “I am an atheist and I don’t believe in the virginity nor the sanctity of the Virgin Mary,” the actor added, stating that he would continue to think the same way even if he ends up in jail.
Toledo said that it was “outrageous” that an “ultra-fundamentalist could file a lawsuit for blasphemy
Willy Toledo has been involved in a number of controversies over the years. In 2013, he announced that he was leaving Spain to move to Cuba, expressing words of praise for the country’s government, as well as for former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, during a television interview. “It moves me, coming from Europe, where we are victims of rampant capitalism, arriving in Latin America where there are these humanist processes that have improved the lives of the people,” he said at the time.
That same year, Cuban athlete Orlando Ortega defected to Spain and opted for Spanish nationality. After he won a medal at the Río de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, Toledo took to social networks, calling Ortega a “worm,” adding that: “Rome does not pay traitors, something that every Cuban should be aware of.” The incident cost Toledo a month without access to his Facebook account, after the social network opted to temporarily shut it down.
In 2010, Toledo entered Congress, Spain’s lower house, along with five other activists during a parliamentary session. The group shouted slogans in favor of the freedom of Western Sahara, the disputed territory in North Africa. A court case over the incident was shelved a year later.
English version by Simon Hunter.